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Towlersonsafari

South Africa Road Trip November 2018-Death, dying and the best sightings yet!

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Towlersonsafari
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Hello folks, We have just got back from a November trip to South Africa, with the main aims of visiting  the KTP, probably our favourite San Park, and Mountain Zebra, somewhere we have been once before and really enjoyed.When planning, Jane found an absolute gem of a place, between Hanover and Colesberg and about half way between Cape Town and Joberg where we enjoyed record sightings on an epic nightdrive., some of the best food we have ever eaten, and met a passionate conservationist and sheep farmer! It was the first trip with my new Panasconic G9 and I really enjoyed using it, we saw 3 new mammal species, a very clever crow and nearly 50 cats spread over 5 species, including this charming wild cat kitten and his/her 2 siblings!

The itinery-

Fly to Joberg with Ba (airmiles credit card) overnight

Fly to Upington pick up hire car overnight Twee rivieren

4 nights Kalahari Tented Camp

3 nights Nossob New river Front chalet

2 nights KillieKrankie

3 nights New Holme Guest Farm

3 nights Mountain Zebra new rock chalet

3 nights Thunzi bush lodge nr Port Elizabeth

PE-to Joberg and Home!

We booked through Lawsons who we meet at the Birdfair and their patience and helpful advice was again wonderful. to try to sleep on the plane I downloaded novels from one of my favourire authors, very much a guilty secret. in a desperate bid to inject interest I may drop a few clues!

 

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Big_Dog

The title has certainly piqued my interest! Eager to read what was seen.

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CDL111

Alternative to big cat diary?

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dlo

50 cats and some of the best food you have ever eaten is a pretty good opening but I"m honestly a little disappointed to hear no mention of any impending disasters on the trip! Sounds like a great trip and Jane is doing a better job of keeping you out of trouble!

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Towlersonsafari

More like big little and very small cat diary @CDL111 and I am very sorry  @dlo but have you ever thought I might be keeping Jane out of trouble?  no stupid thought.In fact i blame her for the murder I committed, as you will see.....

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Towlersonsafari

In fact the start of the trip did not go smoothly.  thanks to late flights we arrived at Upington to pick the humpety bumpety army truck up at about 2.30pm, which meant a rush to the Pick n Pay for shopping and then the 3 hour journey to KTP. It is a very simple route.Lawson's, in their brochure that they provide to clients mentioned hat we"knew the way by now"  and so it is entirely Jane's fault that she was asleep whilst i merrily sailed past the only tuning I had to make or that I did not notice for abut 40 km's!. that made the journey to get to the KTP in time a lot more interesting. and interest was increased when I failed to avoid a displaying black Korhaan that chose an unfortunate moment to fly in front of a 4x4 going at 120km's. In fact I felt horrible, and guilty,( if I had been paying attention I would not have missed the turning) and surprised at just how much blood a bird can deposit on a windscreen.Also one felt terribly self-conscious  going to a nature reserve with a vehicle covered n blood and feathers.We made it with 15 minutes to spare, and after re-fueling, reducing Tyre pressure we were able to relax listening to the sound of my  beloved barking geckos

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Towlersonsafari

all that one rally needs from Twee Rivieren  accommodation is that the bts are well behaved, and that turned out to be the case.In November the camps open at 5.30am and close at 7.30 and in what turned out to be very hot weather, 40 degrees most days by noon most sightings were in the early morning more than usual. We were never the first out , and very much enjoyed a routine of taking breakfast and lunch with us, and getting back at about 1.00pm-2.pm, resting gently and taking a short early evening drive.Twee Riveieren is also a very good area for wildlife and we have never failed to see these critters near there.Our first full day, the drive to Kalahari Tented Camp by way of the short dune road

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Towlersonsafari

thank you everyone for your kind "likes". You can imagine, because you have all felt it, the excitement of starting the holiday proper.of being in Africa, on holiday, looking for wildlife.Hoping for something special, for cats for just a sign that this trip will be a good trip! driving along at 20-25 kph trying ones best to spot things, and grinning at each other like loons, very very happy loons! We saw  but not close enough to photograph a family of bat eared foxes and then Cape fox, and some young springbok.We found out later that there had been some early rains, and this may have encouraged some to give birth

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And here are a few of the  other characters that we would come across regularly during the next 9 days

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Towlersonsafari

And then we arrived at Kalahari Tented camp tent no 15 one of our favourite camps to be greeted that night by that most wonderful sound, a roaring lion as well as the full array of Barking geckos, and a bat most annoyed to be stuck in our -or perhaps his-room!

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Towlersonsafari

And the next moring, on our first drive along our favourite part of the KTP, we started as we emant to go on. Firstly this "Quiet Gentleman"

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And at Craig Lockhart water hole, four of these

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CDL111

Good start to your trip with the four cheetah. Brave to blame somebody else for missing a turning.

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michael-ibk

Oh, that view from Kalahari Tented Camp really brings back nice memories, what a great place. And Cape and Bat-Eared Fox, not to mention four Cheetahs, wow, not too shabby. Keep posting good stuff, and maybe, just maybe we can get over the fact that you are a cold-blooded Korhaan-Killer!:ph34r:

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Towlersonsafari

not cold blooded @michael-ibk honest! and Jane never let me forget it either-as if I could-shouting out warnings to any and all birds that approached the road-for some reason she found that very funny!

We spent some time with the cheetahs, 4 brothers I think and indeed saw them later in the day resting high up in the dunes on thew other side of the valley.The stretch of the Auob river down to the Kamqua picnic sight is I think our favourite area and is certainly the most scenic.also the trees by the side of the road seem particularly productive. for example, this Spotted Eagle Owl, one of a pair

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Towlersonsafari

The next morning started well, and with me trying to be all arty

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We saw big herds of springbok again

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and then at the same Craig Lockhart waterhole 2 sub-adult males and 3 female lions

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Edited by Towlersonsafari

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Towlersonsafari

The lions wandered off to rest on the hillside, and after breakfast watching them snooze ( rusks and tea was my choice muffins for Jane seemed to be what we settled on most days) we managed to see this Wild cat ina tree-on our last trip Lawsons mentioned that the larger tress were often used as a day time sleeping place especially in the Auob and ever since then we do try to keep a look out

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He-or she-got bored of us before we got bored of him/her

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Towlersonsafari

The next morning started off with the usual springboks

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But I  know what you are thinking, where is our early morning cat sighting?

Here he is!

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walking to yes Craig Lockhart waterhole.In fact he caused the biggest car jam-a very polite car jam of about 16 cars all of whom were either already at the waterhole or guessed that the lion was on its way.(after the lion wandered to a dune to snooze the traffic dissapeared into the park, but as both Mata Mata and KTC are so close, and only go one way on game drives, this is I suppose inevitable. A small price to pay

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Towlersonsafari

Things were going much too smoothly so my lovely G9 decided to freeze! I like to think I was calm, went through all the options whilst the lion got closer, did not swear at all espcially at Jane's helpful sugestions, and quickly decided to take the battery out and put it back.

Sadly the only thing about that last sentence that is true is, eventually the last bit!

We did wonder about the dynamics of the lions in this area. The 5 we saw yesterday seemed to have sub adult males that would not be in the same pride as this one.We thought this lion may be the roaring male we heard on our first nightl The prides have much bigger territories in the KTP but it would be fascinating to know how they all fitted together, or indeed the 2 we saw the next day in one of our best lion sightings ever.....

but before that a pefectly splendid bird sighting

Edited by Towlersonsafari

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Towlersonsafari

Actually some gemsbok had also wandered down to the waterhole and they were not as pleased to see the lion resting in the dunes

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Towlersonsafari

Later that day we arived at the 13th waterhole and watched finches fly to the waterhole and nervously fly back, with the occasional unsuccessful lanner stoop.i have several photo's of places where lanners either were or were just about to be, showing i was as fgood at taking photos of falcons in flight as they were at catching the red billed queleas. I Pied Crow jumped onto the bonnet of another vehicle , I am sure part of a pair, and the driver said he had been watching it catch the queleas and bury them. the next day, on our way from KTC to Nossob, we had the great pleasure of watching the crow in action.all that swooping about was much too inefficient for the crow.We saw it fly down to the waterhole, and as the queleas came down to drink, it gently flew up a few feet to intercept them, plucking one out of the air.It really was spellbinding in it simplicity.I regret not trying to photograph it but a very professional looking guy was actually there, he said, to photograph this bird! We did not want to get in his way

We saw these giraffes slowly wandering up the auob river

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Towlersonsafari

We had a splendid time at KTC, with Willian the camp manager being very helpful, and on the day we left pointing out the tracks of a leopard that had come through camp.We also missed out on it at the first waterhole as we started on our way to Nossob.  enjoying the early morning light

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and our early morning big cat sighting, the same 5 lions we had seen 2 days earlier this time making their way across the road and causing a smallish traffic jam.

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Towlersonsafari

We decidied to let the traffic day down, and then  were a bit disappointed  to find nothing at Craig Lockhart waterhole. As we slowly drove towards the next waterhole, around the corner came

 

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What a treat! 2 males in what seemed to be at the top of their form, respectfully followed by a procession of only 2 vehicles, and we stopped and just gazed in awe and glee

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Both chose to pass right by my window-which I thought might be a good idea to wind up-it would be so embarrassing if they had decided not to like my hat

We joined the procession as they headed to Craig lockhart waterhole!

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Towlersonsafari

We watched them  walk along the river bed, one putting his paw on a leopard tortoise just to say hello, and then went to find a prime spot to see them at the waterhole, having the pleasure of announcing that "our lions" were approaching to a car that was just about to leave.One of the joys of the Auob valley is that you can see for a long way 

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Towlersonsafari

And when they got to the waterhole, this is what we saw

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We did so enjoy the whole sighting, and it still makes us smile

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Zim Girl

Enjoying this report @Towlersonsafari

The shot of the two lions walking together in post #22 is lovely.

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Dave Williams

Very impressed with the photos the G9 has produced, what lens(es) did you use?

The biggest drawback of the camera is the battery life of only 400 shots per charge. You need at least one spare ready to load and fingers crossed it isn't at a crucial moment, better change before the end of the battery charge and in which case better to have at least two spares!

I'm very drawn to visiting the Kgalagadi, getting accommodation isn't easy but I notice that if you go in summer...January and February ...there is availability even from this month.

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